How to Spend 3 Days in Sardinia
Sardinia is an island of contrasts, with wildly untamed countryside and luxury beach resorts, idyllic white-sand beaches and time-capsule mountain villages, Bronze Age ruins and magnificent Romanesque cathedrals. With three days on the island, you’ll be able to experience a bit of all Sardinia has to offer. Here’s how.
Day 1: Olbia
Most ferries and flights arrive in this port city on Sardinia’s northeastern coast, so begin your exploration of the island here. Take a turn around the city on a tuk-tuk tour to get your bearings, then use Olbia as your jumping-off point to explore the spectacular Emerald Coast (Costa Smeralda). Opt for a minivan tour to admire the coastline as far as Santa Teresa Gallura by land, or take a yacht or sailboat tour to explore this pristine stretch of coast by sea. Most boat tours also take in the pink-sand beaches of the Maddalena Archipelago and the Caprera Island nature reserve and include lunch onboard. Alternatively, head south to San Teodoro to explore the rugged countryside of Mount Nieddu, known for its waterfalls and sweeping views, by ATV.
Day 2: Alghero
Today, head west across the island to this popular coastal retreat, a medieval city with both a delightfully picturesque old town and easy access to the postcard-perfect beaches nearby. Start with a walking tour to take in the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria and the boutiques and shops selling traditional coral jewelry along Via Roma. Gourmands can choose a food-and-wine walking tour or join a farmhouse cooking class in the countryside to prepare and enjoy classic Sardinian dishes. Otherwise, choose a traditional restaurant to sample the city’s Spanish-influenced dishes, such as paella algherese (Alghero paella) and aragosta alla catalana (Catalan crayfish). In the afternoon, set sail by boat or kayak along Alghero’s Coral Coast to the dazzling Neptune’s Grotto (Grotta di Nettuno) at Capo Caccia, famous for its magnificent rock formations. End your day with a traditional dinner in the home of a local fisherman.
Day 3: Cagliari
Perhaps the most cosmopolitan of the island’s cities, the southern coastal town of Cagliari has an intact old town, unspoilt wetlands, and easy access to premier archaeological sites. Begin with a tour of the Castello district, the city’s time-capsule historic center. After taking in the hilltop citadel and city cathedral, head to the water’s edge to admire the colorful resident flamingoes inside Molentargius Natural Park. Gourmands can explore Cagliari’s culinary side with a cooking class, home-dining experience, or wine tour to the surrounding vineyards. Archaeology enthusiasts will want to join a tour of the nearby Phoenician ruins in Nora or the neolithic Su Nuraxi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the most fascinating remains of the island’s mysterious Nuragic culture.